The use of social media background checks has been a bit of a hot-button issue lately, as more people bite back against the privacy-violating practice of employers asking for job applicants’ social media passwords. While employers are wading into this new area of employment screening with a good mix of trepidation, curiosity and legal counsel, previous surveys regarding the use of social media in the background check process seemed to point toward its growing popularity. A survey by California-based Employment Screening Resources cited a statistic that 48 percent of employers admitted using social networking websites as part of their employment screening process.
But a newer survey, this one by Chicago-based job board CareerBuilder, includes more conservative numbers. According to the CareerBuilder survey, 37 percent of hiring managers and human resources professionals use social media to look into job candidates.
The survey says employers primarily used Facebook (65 percent) and LinkedIn (63 percent) to research candidates, while 16 percent used Twitter. Employers cited the following reasons for using social media to look into the candidates’ backgrounds:
- To see if the candidate presents himself/herself professionally: 65 percent.
- To see if the candidate is a good fit for the company culture: 51 percent.
- To learn more about the candidate’s qualifications: 45 percent.
- To see if the candidate is well-rounded: 35 percent.
- To look for reasons not to hire the candidate: 12 percent.
It’s clear this new tool for researching prospective employees is here to stay, at least in some capacity. Employers would be well advised, though, to avoid asking for passwords and instead just use the information a job applicant already has deemed to be “public.”